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Exclusive interview

H&M on sustainability: insights from the fashion industry

By Lucy Whitehouse + , 25-Jul-2017

H&M on sustainability: insights from the fashion industry

Sustainability continues to be a lead issue on the beauty industry agenda. We got a supply chain expert’s insight, via Malin Lundahl of H&M.

Lundahl is Supply Chain Project Manager for the global fashion retailer. She spoke to us on sustainability ahead of her presentation on the topic at this year’s European Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, organised by Ecovia Intelligence in Paris in November.

H&M has seen global success in recent years with its fashion inspired cosmetics lines. How does the cosmetics supply chain fit into the company’s wider sustainability efforts?

For H&M sustainability is integrated into all parts of the business – it is part of the company’s DNA and values. In some aspects the cosmetics supply chain is different compared to our core business, textile, and that can be challenging.

We, to the extent possible, apply the sustainability efforts and approach that we have already developed for the textile industry to our cosmetics. We also work on solutions in sustainability areas that are specific for cosmetics and not covered by our efforts on the garment side.

Are there any particular sustainability challenges that come with creating a cosmetics brand? How does H&M meet these/work towards these?

When it comes to creating conscious cosmetics products one of the main challenges is to develop products that meets the high demands of the customer.

The customer has high requirements on texture, function, price and quality but at the same time we have limitations regarding the ingredients we can use for the Ecocert certified conscious assortment. We address this by working closely with our suppliers to find solutions and never losing focus of our customer.

Is the emphasis on sustainability changing/growing? How can cosmetics players & fashion brands respond to this?

Yes, we see an increased sustainability awareness among our customers. As sustainability is embedded in everything we do at the H&M Group we welcome the sustainability demands from our customers as it will push us to evolve even further.

We respond to this by take in all the input from our customers and other stakeholders and constantly assessing the way we work. It is important to stay open-minded and agile to sustainability developments.

Do you have any top tips for working sustainably on a global scale?

The H&M Group vision is to use our size and scale to lead the change towards circular and renewable fashion while being a fair and equal company.

Are there any interesting/exciting innovations that facilitate sustainability?

We are constantly trying to evolve our cosmetics assortment and products to be more sustainable, both when it comes to packaging and formulations. At H&M we have a collaborative mindset and looking for further opportunities within the cosmetics industry to collaborate with other companies, join initiatives and learn from all our stakeholders.

Final thoughts?

The H&M group makes affordable, good-quality and sustainable fashion available for many people, regardless of their income or where they live – that is our passion and our everyday work. It has always been important to us to act in a way that makes it possible not just for the present but also future generations to enjoy fashion.

The H&M Group vision is to use our size and scale to lead the change towards circular and renewable fashion while being a fair and equal company. This vision is build on three ambitions: 100 % Leading the change, 100 % Circular and Renewable and 100 % Fair and Equal.

For more details on our Sustainability work, head here. Our Sustainability Report for 2016 is also available there.

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